People always comment on our lifestyles as photographers and videographers and how it’s so amazing to live a life where you capture beauty and interesting things on a daily basis.
The truth is that the way we see and document life you sometimes also have to capture the things that make you think and sometimes breaks your heart…
This documentary certainly opened our eyes to the ongoing discrimination that’s still rive in rural communities and shed some light on some of the issues the LGBT community still face.
As part of the Smoking Dragon Festival we were commissioned to also capture the LGBT outreach program and workshops as part of their community program in association with the Proud Initiative.
As part of Smoking Dragon Festival the Pink Tent Initiative had a strong presence where some of the best local talent performed under the rainbow stage raising awareness of the LGBT community and the various issues they face.
Here are some some of the people and their stories that touched our lives…
The greatest reward is when your clients grow with you as a business, or in this case when you as a small business grow with your clients…
In this case our first and one of our most loyal clients The MediaShop
Recently we had the pleasure of not only witnessing but documenting their entry into a new era when they moved to setup shop in their brand new offices on the Main Straight.
The excitement on the day was electric and with activities ranging from the stock standard ribbon cutting officially opening the building to The MediaShop employees that have never before seen the new premises, to a drumming circle to build some team moral, to an amazing race challenge to explore their new surroundings all hyped by the outside broadcast courtesy of Hot 91.9
We of course had to keep it creative and conceptual and when we were briefed to document and cover the events of the day we suggested something a little different. Tasked with such a big event we felt that we had to create something special for all the clients and suppliers who weren’t lucky enough to make it to the official opening to be featured on their website.
Our suggestion was taking the age old boring virtual tour and flipping it on it’s head by taking the viewer through the office with all of the employees playing out a dramatic mannequin challenge.
The results, an amazing tour through their new home with familiar faces decorating each and every corner.
We hope you like and enjoy the tour and we wish The MediaShop the best of luck in their new home…
So after so much hype and anticipation the Cosmopolitan 2017 search for the Sexiest man in South Africa came to an end with Mr December taking the honours this time round.
A huge congratulation goes out to Tiro …. the winner of this years competition and SA’s Sexiest man for 2017!
The evening as you can well imagine featured some of SA’s hottest men doing their best to entertain the crazy girls of Jozi that came out to support their nominees. Dressed to impress and with sponsors like Gordon’s Gin, Opel, Glamglow and Guess the atmosphere was a buzz with excitement.
Amanda Du Pont and Smash kept the crowd on their toes throughout and with a surprise performance from Timo ODV the celebrations continued well into the early hours of the morning.
Here’s some of the highlights from the night…
This Sunday we visited the BMW Pure and Crafted event which was quite something , we only caught one or 2 bands and checked out a few bikes we will definitely try check out this event again in future.
“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Photographing people for me is a search for their essence and really getting to know the person to capture those moments when they’re able to see themselves in their own photographs
So when a friend approached me to help her shoot a portrait for a conference where she’ll be presenting to 700 top business executives in Sweden next year, the search was on.
The brief, something professional yet edgy, sassy and playful yet serious at the same time but not too serious not to look approachable…simple enough right…
These were the results
So last year around this time the talented team from Formative approached me to shoot a show at The Dome…”We’d like you to shoot Cassper tomorrow night”…
So thinking nothing of it I scheduled the gig and then received a call the next day asking if I’d like to come do a scout and get a better idea of the lighting setup before the show…
It’s only at this point that I realised my initial assumption that I was booked to shoot stand up comedian Casper De Vries, that I was totally off point…And man was I in for a treat and huge surprise at the fact that not only was this one of the biggest but also most spectacular live shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending
With lighting and stage production that not only matched but surpassed majority of the international acts visiting us from abroad, it didn’t take much to convince me to shoot Cassper’s “Fill up Orlando”show this time round…
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video, do yourself a favour and see exactly what you missed last weekend round…
So if last year wasn’t an absolute surprise…this year had it own set of surprises, ranging from artists popping up out of the stage for surprise visits, a rotating diamond platform centre stage, LED and light panels lifting up and down to continually changing the stage, and 2 storey high flames just to name a few…
Herewith some of the highlights from the night…
The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) recently moved into their new offices in Sandton and to celebrate decided to host investors and clients and treat them to two exclusive cocktail parties
Drawn to light was there to capture the events and ensure every moment and memory was captured for future recollection
Some highlights over the two nights..
So with silly season in full swing we’ve been rather busy and thus the lack of posts recently…
However, we’re quite excited to share some of the exciting things we’ve been shooting once it’s ready to release…watch this space
In the mean time some photos from the last corporate function we shot at the exquisite Val Bonne Country Estate
Heart Fm & MediaMark hosted various agencies for the day and put their cooking skills to the test for the Heart FM Agency Cook off
With advertising folk spending so little time at home it was quite a surprise that they manage to prepare anything other than a microwave meal…And boy were we surprised and amazed at the amazing dishes they came up with and so were the judges
The judging panel included Heart Fm’s very own Dj Suga, celebrity chef Darren Aldon O’Donovan from Cube Tasting Kitchen and they were assisted by Loret De Musso and her team from Lorets Kitchen to ensure everything went off without a hitch
Well done to Team 2 from Mindshare who walked away with first price for their delicious Chicken Korma
Some of the highlights from the day…
“New Music Preview” is a brand new platform for local House , Hip Hop & RnB artists, It will be a monthly event happening on the first Friday ever month at Hard Rock Cafe Johannesburg at Nelson Mandela Square.
This months event took place on Friday night featured some great artists.
We are lucky enough to have an excellent team of professional video editors but sometimes we also like to play and test things ,This particular video is the result of a set of experiments that we have been conducting with video lighting and editing.
So with Spring in full swing and October right around the corner, we start looking at raising awareness around serious issues with Breast Cancer taking the spotlight this time round
Hard Rock Cafe and Imperial Motors wanted to make heads turn and so decided to wrap three of their beauties in Pink, and these certainly drew attention
We were lucky enough to capture these early one morning at the iconic Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton
So wether you take your top off or just keep it flashy, we can all take note of the suffering of those around us and perhaps just by having a little more compassion and understanding make a difference.
So support Breast Cancer Awareness month this coming October
Mixology – the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks
So it’s that time of year again for the Annual World Class Mixology Competition and this time round our local Jozi boy Dominique Walsh walked away with the South African title and was chosen to represent and make South Africa proud in Miami
With years of experience and co-founder of Molecular Bars which has changed the way people see and consume their cocktails, the international competitors have their work cut out for them!
Good luck Dom and no matter what happens we’ll know you’ll make us all proud
Herewith some of the best mixes from last years competition…
Gone are the days that cocktails only appeal to the sense of taste 😉
Drawn to Light is proud to show one of our most recent creative collaborations with Erin Frost who is a talented graphic designer and artist to create this amazing animated gif, more to come soon.
“Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way…” Alice in Wonderland
And The March Hare was anything but common.
When you find a place that leads you down the rabbit hole without any fear, but know that it almost certainly leads to fun and excitement to the max…then you know you’ve found home 🙂
You’ll be sorely missed but looking forward to the new and exciting things Dom and the team from Molecular Bars are working on…Watch this space!
And who knows, you might just end up in yet another Wonderland and perhaps get to meet Alice…
Whoever that might be 😉
Keepin it real with Chey Jah Eye-Rah Crompton and Dead Reck Crew
Can you dig it!!!
Yes you can 😉
This beautiful macrame jewellery is all hand made by a very talented designer Bronwyn Sherman, using precious metals like gold combined with different strings that are all knotted in decorative ways to show off the particular piece.
If you are interested in getting a piece they must be made ordered. firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the overwhelming response we had to our Oppi Koppi posts this year, we thought it would be a good idea to feature some of our earlier work where we managed to capture some international talent and some of the best local talent.
From Die Antwoord with Ninja and Yolandi capturing the worlds attention with their crazy antics, to Chevelle, Joav and Sonique and Tori Amos sharing her heart and sorrows through her melodies.
Not to forget about South African talent featuring local acts like Boo, Cassper Nyovest, Jimmy Niven, Mandoza, 340ml, Double Adapter and Hog Hoggidy Hog.
Herewith a compilation of the best work from Gavin and myself before Drawn To Light was even an idea…
Enjoy, and as always your feedback is appreciated
So when our talented jewellery designer friend Minette Arlow asked us to capture some of her amazing pieces we didn’t hesitate and with complete creative freedom managed to capture some amazing shots
Here’s our take on it and go check out her work on Facebook Minette Arlow Jewellery
For the love of food
With good lighting and solid concepts the world is your oyster and the sky’s the limit 😉
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
― Aristotle, The Philosophy of Aristotle
And at Drawn To Light we’re all about finding the essence of anything and everything we shoot
Taking the status quo of average day-to-day imagery and turning it on its head to make for more thought provoking photos and video
“Performance art is about joy, about making something that’s so full of a kind of a wild joy that you really can’t put into words.” – Laurie Anderson
Some more images capturing the gRRR Kollective sharing their magic and spreading the love with the masses at Oppi this year.
Happy Monday and a friendly reminder to “Save the Unicorns” 😉
So with all the excitement of the Olympics and our athletes causing quite the stir, I thought it was quite appropriate to post some photos we shot last time round to raise some awareness around the lack of sponsorship for our young up and coming athletes and the challenges they face.
The idea or concept was to feature these young athletes and showcase their less than ideal training conditions as a result of lack of sponsorship at grass root level
Hopefully with the amazing performance of our athletes currently it brings about some reform and we start encouraging programs and sponsorships especially in previously disadvantaged areas to help grow our sporting potential in the international arena
Go Team South Africa 🙂
“The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express” – Sr Francis Bacon
For those who know me they’d know I’ve got a fascination with all things old (antique), specially cameras 🙂
So for this shoot I wanted to combine old and new and take the viewer back to an older bygone era with moody lighting and props to suite the theme…
Although Karen made her first ever appearance in front of the camera for this shoot, she played the part perfectly and made for a great shoot altogether adding to the timeless beauty of these images
And cue music from Sir Mixalot…
“Oh, my, god Becky, look at her butt
It is so big, she looks like
One of those rap guys’ girlfriends”
“I like BIG butts and I cannot lie…” 🙂
So recently we were briefed by Brand Cartel to capture some lifestyle images for their client Freddy Jeans
The brief included product shots, fashion, glamour and behind the scenes shots from latest Freddy Jeans range, accessories and Training outfits for an online campaign.
We spent the day on location capturing all shapes and sizes…though life…I know 🙂
These were the results
So last on our featured list of artists but certainly not least, we were fortunate enough to not only see them live but also capture them in action this year was Hunter and the guys from Thieve
Performing to a jam packed audience at the James Phillip Stage Friday night they sure didn’t disappoint and left the crowd begging for more.
This Cape Town outfit sound sure is “Thick as Thieves”or so to speak and offered the eager party animals and dancers a good kick start to their evenings which most probably ended in an early morning stomp at the Red Bull stage…or for me at least it did 😉
So if you weren’t lucky enough to see them live at Oppi you’re in luck as they’ve just launched their new album titled “Extra Ordinary” available at their next launch show near you. So check out their Facebook page for more details and do yourself a favour and grab a copy and support local talent. You know you wanna 😉
So until next year…
In dust we trust
Bye Beneco, are one South African band that often stand out to me as unique and musically creative , they always put on a great show and this year at Oppikoppi was no different. They had the honor of being invited to play on the main stage, and this time shared the stage with them, a team of performing artists called the ‘Grrr Kollective’ which added a really interesting an entertaining theatrical dimension to their performance. All I can say is mind-blown!
Every year Oppikoppi , always manages to bring us a bunch of awesome new bands to check out. ONEDAYSKY was one that I had never seen before but they have a killer live performance.They are a pretty new band and had to replay one of the songs they already had played when the crowd at the Bruilof stage wouldn’t let them leave without an encore.
So after my initial scepticism in having to part ways with our drummer the one and only “Storm Awesome” and see him pursue a band that would grant him his first on stage performance at Oppi. The first of many I’m sure, I was happy to see him spread his proverbial wings and give it horns 😉
And after shooting the okes from Satanic Dagga Orgy Friday afternoon, the move made a lot more sense to say the least…
From heavenly melodies Nun style, to chaotic and fun devil worship (LOL) 🙂
The operative word here being fun and lots of it, the similarities certainly started showing itself. From ridiculous outfits or lack there of, to the demonic dancers they summoned from down below to entertain the avid fans 🙂
There wasn’t a dull moment nor a place for a mouse in front of the James Phillips stage and Loopy and the boys left the crowd begging for more.
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch their performance, check out their latest music video (Don’t Be Kak) on Youtube. Just to give you an idea of exactly what madness they got up to on stage and next time you won’t wanna miss their show! Believe me!
And yes…always remember…
“Don’t be a P$@S, just be lekker…” – Satanic Dagga Orgy
So Oppi’s come and gone this year with the only reminder is the ringing in my ears and the dust that stills remains in every possible orifice imaginable…
And as always the line up and vibe certainly didn’t disappoint drawing crowds in excess of 20,000 people this year alone!
Drawn To Light had the privilege and honour of shooting some of the best local acts both bands and performance artists this year.
The first to feature according to me is one of the most promising acts to come out of the South African music scene the cats from Silva Black.
With only 4 live shows under their belt they’ve secured a spot at Oppi and left the crowds begging for more after their brutal performance on the Skelm Stage
With sounds reminding you of the good old days of Rage Against The Machine and Hed PE they certainly got me jumping!
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch them at Oppi here’s some photos to share the experience, or if you happen to find yourself in Cape Town tonight (9th of August) catch them live tonight at The Assembly opening for Yelawolf.
More images to follow from the other acts and performers we manage to capture later in the week
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” – Charles R. Swindoll
Thank you again to Kerry & Shaun for always playing along with my crazy ideas, you guys rock like that!
And I trust one day you’ll share these memories with little Murray and he’ll know he’s got the coolest parents ever!
Much love friendlies
We are really proud to present this new collaborative venture with Alani Keiser Studios
Narrated Photo Tours for the Real Estate Industry.
Reach your potential clients with this engaging marketing tool, while enhancing your online presence!
Narrated Photo Tours are a unique marketing strategy easy to share as a 24/7 open-house online Audio Visual experience
Available for every property niche: developing, sales, letting – short & long term. Corporate or leisure.
For more information, on our Narrated photo Tours like this please contact us at
In our industry we’re met with so many creative challenges and requirements, however our best work always come from creative environments where we’re encouraged to have fun 🙂
After all…as Tom Ford puts it…”When you are having fun and creating something you love, it shows in the product. I believe you can actually transfer that energy to material things as you’re creating them.”
Our work in this case speaks for itself…
Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking mind. It means you don’t see the other human being anymore, but only your own concept of that human being. To reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a form of violence. – Eckhart Tolle
On the 16th of June 2016 The South African LGBT community gathered at the Babylon nightclub in Centurion, in support for the victims of the Orlando shooting. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family & friends of the victims effected by this horrific incident.
Orlando Memorial Vigil at Babylon nightclub in Pretoria
At Drawn To Light no event is too big or too small for us to provide you both still and video coverage to get the most out of your event.
Some photos from The Medaishop event we covered last week.
It goes without saying that we love setting the stage with our larger than life photo booths 😉
Theme based sets are designed and with tethered shooting we do onsite branded printing so that guests remember your event…long after the hangover’s worn off 🙂
When we tell people we document everything…we literally mean we leave no stone unturned and no moment uncaptured….As its your special day and obviously specific to you and your personality and those of your guests 😉
So if you’re looking at tying the knot and would like us to capture all those “special”moments…drop us a mail and we’d be happy to chat…
It goes without saying, we capture everything else as we know how important remembering every single moment of your special day is…after all, all the effort is normally in all the detail 😉
We had the pleasure earlier this year to cover Justine & Dave Manthe amazing wedding and herewith some selections from the day. The couple both agree we managed to capture their personalities and those of their more distinguished guests just as they remember the day 😉
“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” —Gianni Versace
At Drawn to Light we’re all about collaborating with individuals that strive for the same things in life, who live to express their individuality and stay true to themselves and real no matter what the prevailing trends might be .
Melanie Meyer (Designer) asked us to assist in capturing her new range in studio and we had the pleasure of shooting the beautiful Michelle Van der Nest (Model) adorning the beautiful garments.
Make up – Dawn Margaret Williams
Hair – Zac (AKA the man with a plan)
For more check out Viva La Vie Couture on Facebook and website www.vivalaviecouture.co.za
“We no longer live life. We consume it.”
― Vicki Robin
This statement couldn’t be more accurate and after all the madness that ensued with Mall of Africa’s grand opening certainly rang true…
I suppose it’s a good sign when economies globally are on a downward turn that locally consumerism still seems to be rive and South Africans still have disposable income in these tough times
Drawn to Light was there to capture the New Balance store opening and form part of all the exciting activities and to capture the excitement
Herewith some highlights from the day…
Good music, good vibes and of course only the best vodka to drink with Ciroc in the house.
Had the pleasure of shooting their activation at Cantare featuring DJ Dimplez on the decks.
Good times 🙂
So everything these days have become so specialised, and the mixing of your favourite cocktail is no different.
I had the honour yet again shooting the World Class Mixology Press launch some time ago and I’m still flabbergasted as to what an art mixology has actually become…
So highlights from the launch…
As I sit down to write the final post to my adventure I’m overwhelmed with emotion and at a loss for words…
It’s been real and my words are just that.
And although I have so many more stories to share I’m afraid those will have to be shared in person as I’d like to take the opportunity to share my eternal gratitude
And that’s exactly why I started the post with these two words.
Commonly used words or at least in my life and vocabulary, but words that sometimes I feel is so easily taken for granted or lost among sentiments and sometimes need to be repeated to carry any sort of weight these days…
So Thank you.
Thank you to each and everyone that’s formed part of my life story and to those I’m yet to encounter. To friends, family, clients and inspiring beings and everyone that share my love for learning, growing, living and not only support but understand my insatiable wanderlust.
All of you have played a part wether big or small and if not for you and your contribution or lesson you’ve taught me I wouldn’t be in this exact position and place that I find myself in today 🙂
Everyone’s a teacher and a mirror at the same time, and today as I stand and look at myself I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.
For the happy times and the sad, the easy and the hard, the good and the bad.
These have all shaped me into who I am today and for that I’m eternally grateful
And although after three months I return home with an empty wallet, I come home with a heart so filled with emotion and memories, that it will keep me inspired for years to come and leave me ready to plan my next adventure.
Until then I leave you with some of my favourite images captured in and around Hong Kong…
Jozi, you’ve got your some work to do!
After I’ve experienced a city as amazing as Hong Kong, it’s hard to live up to these new expectations…
Just saying 😉
With a week left I take some time to reflect on my journey and review just how far I’ve come…
Six new ways to say hello and 6 more to say goodbye…
Goodbye’s however, never get easier…
But I’ve come to accept that some connections last for a mere moment and others for lifetime. Exactly why it’s of paramount importance to culture an attitude of non-attachment rather than holding onto anything too tightly.
Taking lessons from past experience and planning for the future but finding a balance in the present.
So from enjoying the island life on Phuket and Phi Phi, to taking a breather from traveling in Tonsai…To saving a life in Bangkok, climbing mountains in Chang Mai, mastering slack lining in Pai, exploring the countryside on scooter and relaxing in hot springs to my hearts content.
It’s here where a small gesture like a freshly picked stem of basil; given to me as a gift to say goodbye, restores my faith in the goodness of mankind. It’s also here when faced with a nearby death experience we realise just how valuable life and decisive action in a moment of panic can be when a fellow traveler collapse after a seizure.
In moments like these you automatically start to self reflect and re-evaluate, and find renewed gratitude for the people you love and the opportunities you have to life, love, travel and experience what our amazing planet has to offer.
After all, the only thing that remains long after the photos are forgotten is the valuable lessons taught to us along the way and the new perspective on life we have found.
I leave you with one last thought while I take the time and my last couple of days to explore the amazing city of Hong Kong 🙂
With traveling and life in general it’s easy to loose your way and to get lost…the difficult part however is in finding oneself…
Just over 10 weeks into our journey and approaching the final leg, we head south to Malaysia to catch up with an old friend 🙂 And as always with good friends we carry on from where we last left off 😉
It’s also here that we get our first taste of what a truly first world city is all about…But believe me, cleaner, faster and better isn’t always best…plagued by corrupt leadership Malaysia is proof that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…the fence or wall in this case is just too high for the rest of the world to see what’s really going on…
That being said, it’s also here that we’re confronted with some aspects of traveling that isn’t always the easiest to accept but one of those things that come with the experience…Cause it’s not always sunshine and full speed ahead, sometimes you gotta get stuck in the rain and the mud to see the rainbow at the end of the storm 🙂
So after deciding that it might be a good idea to rid ourselves of some additional weight we’ve acquired along the way, we decide to send a parcel back home with all the sentimental gifts to the people we love… However, our intentions are shattered merely a couple of weeks later when the package arrives and have subsequently been ransacked! 🙁 The only items remaining, a few pieces of clothing that was included in the package left as a consolation prize to the senders 🙁
So as with everything we’ve learned along our journey, we acknowledge and accept that there is yet another lesson to take from this…And for me, what can be gained from this loss, was that I can only be grateful for the lessons I learned and the people I’ve met along the way, because these things are way more dear than attachments and things acquired along the way and that lessons learnt and friendships forged during our travels are lifelong and sentimental things or attitudes not so much.
It’s also here we get to relax in the lap of luxury for a couple of days, spending our time exploring the city and catching up next to the pool with a view of Kaula Lumpur to die for. Next stop Thailand and the second last country before I head home and back to reality, armed with new perspective and insight and feeling inspired and refreshed 🙂
We have been photographing a lot more developments this year so far, here are a few from the “Askot”in Benoni, which we photographed for Limestone
So after our week long love affair with Bagan we head South to Yangon to start our 10 day silent retreat only to find that we’re not the only ones with this idea in mind…
To make matters worse it was also then that it came to light that the 10 day retreat is actually a 12 day retreat and that there was a slight oversight on our side in terms of our flight booking 🙁
So upon arrival; surrounded by fellow travellers from every conceivable corner of the planet, all with the same intention of learning more about meditation and Buddhism we’re told that with us having to leave 2 days early we can’t enrol at all 🙁
So with our enthusiasm curbed only a mere 10 minutes later we were left stranded with 10 days to kill 🙁
So strongly believing that “everything happens as and when it should” this of course was only the beginning of our truly authentic experience 🙂
We had no idea what we were in for and what magical experience we were about to embark on and all of which was of course being pre-empted by a simple question from one of the other tourists as to “why we are so special…”
So after clearing out our locker and being sent on our merry way again we walk to the next centre where we were advised that they might be more lenient to let us stay for less days to still have the experience we were craving…This centre however much larger and with almost no one that’s able to speak let alone understand English and with no other Westerners in sight…
So its here at Mogok Vipasanna Meditation Centre that we start our roller coaster ride starting with the centres management trying to find a translator to assist us in our quest…And that’s how we met Dr. Jenny Ko Gyi one of the many teachers to guide us along our journey 😉
As fate would have it though Dr. Jenny’s busy schedule at the Buddhist University in Yangon where she also teaches and do her own research, limits the time she has to spend with us and again leaves us to our own device…Of course again it’s just destiny playing it’s part and gently nudging us towards the teachers we needed to meet along the way 😉
Each playing their part in guiding us through this beautiful journey of self discovery and learning more about the Buddhist way of life done the traditional Myanmar way. Including of course having to renounce all luxuries and having to exchange a comfy bed for a wooden bench – one of the 8 precepts to be adhered to during the retreat…
Also having to get well accustomed to the local cuisine consisting of mostly noodle and rice dishes with very basic selection of vegetables and greasy chicken and some dried fish and shrimp to top it off…Which became surprisingly tasty after getting over my initial reservations…
So for the next 8 days we followed a rigours program which started with meditation as early as 04h30 daily followed by breakfast at 06h30, some more guided meditations in Burmese; which obviously became a challenge without our resident translator, follow by dinner at 10h30…And no, it’s not a mistake on my side but yet another precept we had to follow in only eating 2 meals a day and fasting from 12h00 onwards each day…
With an hours break we then got to roam around the complex exploring and acquiring our new attire to wear during meditations – introducing the “logie”which resembles the shape of a tunic and worn by both men and women, however worn in a slightly different fashion. This was followed by some more recorded sermons from their master and most holy monk Mogok Sayadaw which after accenting after having reached enlightenment only to leave some incredible and unexplainable relics proving he’s finally reached Nibbana.
It’s during one of these sessions we were approached by a lady and given a donation of some books with the english translations of the sermons which made it much easier to learn and understand. However, being translated directly from Pali and Burmese we quickly found majority of the reading became quite technical and confusing and was rather frustrating without any guidance…
That’s where our friend Joe came to the rescue and being much more confident in speaking English approached us to find out if he could help or assist with anything…Only to snowball the amount of people who started approaching us to not only teach us more but also to learn more about us and why it was that we were there…
That’s where we also happened to meet Melvyn our 81 year old yogi who took it on himself to teach us the basics about Buddhism and the process of meditation 🙂 So every morning we’d be greeted by Melvyn singing the infamous “Waka – Waka” World Cup 10 made famous by Shakira of course announcing that “It’s time for Africa”…
As with all things this extreme, the isolation from the outside world and our newly acquired diet and sleeping arrangements started taking its toll and it was here where the real self investigation and reflection started. Also faced with extreme heat during day and night and troubled by pestering mosquitos after lights out at 21h00 every night, each day became a little more challenging but was all part of the process and it all leading up to our next adventure…
So with two days left and our yogi having to baby sit his niece we decide to maybe consider leaving early only to be approached by a rebel Buddhist nun that wasn’t really allowed to be seen talking to us. But she secretly met with us and asked to take us somewhere and this is where we decided to pack our bags yet again and go on an adventure to another retreat…
Situated about an hour out of Yangon we found our true purpose and magic. A community of refugees from all over the country, ranging from orphans, to elderly and frail, to disease ridden stray dogs and cats and everything that need food and shelter…on the outskirts of the city lies a haven for all created by one of the local monks as a community project where he feeds and helps the community by building infrastructure ranging from paved roads to clinics and homes for the elderly. Supported with about 140 monks daily making their rounds to collect food donated by the community and assisted by about 100 nuns they keep this boat a float…
If nothing else this project really touched my heart and soul and will have me returning to Myanmar and it’s beautiful people…But for now it’s “Thwa-meh-naw”Burma, until we meet again 🙂
Next stop Kaula Lumpur and then we head north again for our second last destination on our itinerary…the reknowed Siam or better known Thailand 😉
So just over 6 weeks into our adventure and we caught a flight into Yangon where we decided on making our way straight up to Bagan further North to go and explore some more temples before we embark on our 10 day silent retreat…And its here were we fell completely and utterly in love with a country so rich in culture and some of the most welcoming and honest people we’ve met so far…
The over night; bumpy train ride from Yangon up to Bagan, gave us our first taste of the beautiful landscapes and breath taking scenery. Living up to and exceeding every single expectation 🙂
With temples strewn across a valley the size of Johannesburg; literally around every corner, it called for a different mode of transport and was best explored on one of their local electric scooters 😉 Racing from one temple to the next and trying to soak it all in…
From hot air balloons at sunrise to the most beautiful settings for sunset every day leaving us more excited for the next. Bagan is definitely a bucket list kinda destination and one to surely warrant a visit by all in future 😉
The fact that tourism to this part of the world has also only recently opened to the world also of course has its pros and cons…For one the people are still very welcoming and haven’t been tainted by greed as of yet and in majority of the cases are more than happy to assist with any request without trying to wrestle you out of extra money…The flip side however is that the infrastructure geared towards tourism is still relatively limited and especially budget accommodation is still quite hard to find and the gap between budget and luxury is still vast….
But let me not harp on these matters for too long as the photos can speak for themselves as to why this place not only stole my heart but will have me returning for future exploration and to continue my spiritual journey I embarked on during the most interesting “not-so silent”10 retreat and how I found my 81 year old Buddhist yogi in the blog post to follow for Yangon 😉